April 20 2011
The wristwatch, according to a list published by The Huffington Post, is one of 20 items that became obsolete this decade. The article furthers this (sacrilegious and silly) sentiment by saying not only has the wristwatch become completely antiquated, but that a child born in 2011 will never even know what one is. An hourglass, by that logic, is something that should have been erased from the public consciousness at least two millennia ago, and yet here I am, in a state of unabashed lust for one. But this isn’t just any hourglass; this one costs more than a Toyota.
Designed by the arguably overexposed but unquestionably brilliant Marc Newson, Ikepod’s aptly named Hourglass is, to me, perhaps the most beautiful and emotional time-telling device I’ve seen this year, and quite frankly, I’ve seen a lot.
Blown from a single piece of borosilicate glass, the hourglass has lines that are swooping and fluid, very much in line with Newson’s other designs; but the charm of this piece is hardly derived from its form. Inside each hourglass are not three scoops of California sand, but rather eight million specially coated stainless steel nano-balls. Yes, eight million.
These minuscule pellets come coated in nickel, copper, and even yellow gold, and as they fall from the top chamber to the bottom in liquid motion, the result is an energetic chaos. Unlike sand, these nano-balls have a buoyancy that causes them to buzz around the bottom chamber in the most swarming, insect-like way (here’s a video that I shot of the Hourglass in action; here’s another of the Hourglass being made). The frenzy will go unnoticed by most, but I suspect that was intentional.
The Ikepod Hourglass by Marc Newson is a beautiful piece of horological art, but an expensive one. The 60-minute hourglass begins at $28,500, and the 10-minute timer at $13,000. These prices may seem high, perhaps even offensive to some. After all, we’re talking about a simple hourglass here, not even a wristwatch with a micro-engineered beating heart. But nothing about the Ikepod Hourglass is logical, or expected. To see these whimsical timers in the flesh is something I recommend to all – it is an experience that will recategorise the hourglass from utterly antiquated to absolute obsession. And it will very likely cause you to put that new Toyota on hold. Now just try to explain your decision to your friends…